Several aggrieved employees of Firestone Liberia on Wednesday, August 8, 2018 staged a protest in demand of eight dollars thirty-six cents they claimed the Company owed them each of them.
The one day protest saw the aggrieved workers blocking roads with logs (Firestone Rubber Trees) they fell with axes and cutlasses preventing cars from entering and leaving the plantation. Even motorbike riders were finding it difficult to make their way out with their motorcycles leaving them with no other alternative but to tow their bikes and cross over the logs while others were passing under some of the logs.
The Firestone employees speaking to The Monrovia Times Newspaper earlier during the protest said their action was triggered by a statement the Company’s general management, Edmundo Garcia made in the presence of the 54th National Legislature that the Company is paying each of its employees US$8.36 daily and the outcome of a recent meeting among top management of the Company, Lawmakers of Margibi County and shop Stewarts.
The aggrieved workers in separate interviews disclosed that each of them gets US$5.50 daily contrary to the Manager’s statement accusing him of embezzling their balance money.
Alex Ghanteh, one of the protesters said they have been marginalized by the Company over the years stating that he has worked for the Company for seven years with nothing to show.
Alex narrated that when he goes on the pay grounds his take-home salary at times is sixty to seventy Liberian dollars which cannot do anything for his household.
He stated that every 3-year the Company increases their incentives but that has not happen for years and the Firestone management increased tax on the rice issued to them.
Mr. Ghanteh narrated that when the CDC led-government got to power, the management of the Company was summered and when the general manager of the Company appeared before plenary he informed the Representatives that the least workers (Tappers) are earning US$8.36 per day.
He said following the disclosure by the Firestone-Liberia Boss, the Workers embarked on a strike action and the Representatives of Districts 1, 2 and 3 called appealing to them (workers) to hold on for 21 days to allow them conduct an investigation to know why the workers cannot get the eight dollars thirty-six cents in question and they adhered to the appeal.
Alex added that at the end of the 21 days which was July 21st, they were told by the Lawmakers to wait again on grounds that they were going on legislative break.
He explained that on the seventh of August the Firestone management held a meeting with Lawmakers of Margibi and shop steward representing them as workers anticipating to get a concrete response from the Lawmakers but surprisingly the shop Stewarts went back to them with discouraging words that the general manager’s statement was a slip of tongue.
The protester indicated that it is for this reason; they want to remain sitting until Mr. Garcia gives them the money he pronounced.
“If I don’t see that eight dollars and thirty-eight cent they say Alex D. Ghanteh come and sign for your eight dollars and thirty-six cent you sign and carry it, I will never get back to job” he expressed.
He said Mr. Garcia was not under pressure or stress when he appeared before members of the House of Representative to cause him to make the statement he made that tappers were marked eight dollars and thirty-six cents daily.
The situation drew the attention of the Liberian Government thus sending members of the Police Support Unit, the Assistant Minister for Trade Union Affairs, Togba Croyee Porte and Districts 1 and 2 Representatives to intervene and calm returned to the plantation.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labor and Representatives of Margibi County have begun probing into the issue in order to find an amicable solution to the problem. The Ministry of Labor invited the Firestone management and representatives of the aggrieved workers to have a roundtable discussion at the Ministry’s Monrovia office.